Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Littlewick Green and Ashley Hill Forest

Littlewick Green well

Rather a strange walk today. We left home in dull grey weather, but before long we drove into fog. It was foggy when we reached Littlewick Green, a village off the A4, just west of Maidenhead, to start the walk and stayed foggy for the entire way round, just lifting a little around mid-day when were at the highest point on the walk. The countryside around Littlewick Green seemed to be rather pleasant .... although it is hard to be sure as we couldn't even see the far side of the village green.

This six mile walk begins outside the Cricketers pub and, quickly leaving the village a path leads across fields. We enjoyed the courteous sign: "Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints". You shortly reach the A4 at another pub - formerly the Ring o Bells, but now the Novello, named for Ivor Novello the composer, singer and actor. On the return to Littlewick Green you pass his former house, now the Redroof Theatre School. I was surprised to learn from Wikipedia that his real name was Ivor Davies, and that he was gay and once had an affair with Siegfried Sassoon.

Returning now to the walk, you cross the A4 and head across several fields to reach the entrance to Ashley Hill forest. The meandering path through the forest is very attractive and the mixed forest is delightful. It was surprising to find quite an imposing house along the way.

Soon after leaving the forest, the route passes through the Berkshire College of Agriculture, whose centrepiece is the imposing Georgian mansion of Hall Place, which dates from 1735. Too foggy for a photograph unfortunately

Shortly after this, you go along a section of road and turn left at Stebbings Farm and along a track beside more fields. Next to Stebbings Farm is Little Stebbings, with this extraordinary dovecote tower.

The next section of the walk is along a series of woodland paths back to the A4. A small detour would have taken us to an iron age enclosure, with the rather fanciful name of Robin Hood's arbour. Googling suggests that this was constructed by the Belgae, probably between AD 25-50, and a bit outside Robin's normal zone of operations. We didn't make the detour, not expecting to be able to see anything.

Crossing the A4, a section along a road and then two tarmaced farm tracks lead back to Littlewick Green. A very pleasant village with houses of varying periods, mainly spread out around a sprawling village green, with the unusual feature of a well.

From: Pub Walks for Motorists: Berkshire and Oxfordshire by Les Maples (Countryside Books).

Maps: Explorer 160 (Windsor, Weybridge and Bracknell) and Explorer 172 (Chiltern Hills West).

Rating: three and half stars, maybe more on a better day.

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